Biobanking and fertility preservation for rare and endangered species
For more than 25 years, systematic gathering and cryo-storage of biomaterials from diverse wild species have been ongoing to save gene diversity and improve captive (ex situ) and wild (in situ) animal management. Cryo-storage of biomaterials offers broad opportunities - from helping understand the fundamental biology of unstudied species to enhanced conservation breeding, genomics and veterinary medicine. While promoted for decades, the banking of germplasm, tissue, blood and DNA from wildlife species only recently has been considered by some to be a core function of animal conservation programs. Importantly, reproductive biotechnologies and fertility preservation are critical tools for saving and maintaining endangered species and are tightly related to biobanking. Some successes have been reported with the use and integration of artificial insemination (with fresh or frozen-thawed semen) in conservation programs. However, not a single wild species is currently managed through oocyte freezing or embryo-based technologies. This is primarily due to the lack of knowledge of species biology, as well as inadequate facilities, space, expertise, and funding needed for their successful application. More fundamental studies on animal reproductive biology as well as more fertility preservation options are needed with all parties involved (reproductive technologists, zoo biologists and conservationists) adopting parallel efforts to sustain wild populations and habitats
biobanking, conservation breeding, endangered species, fertility preservation.